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Friday, January 29, 2016

Are Third-Party Lenses Good?

Note: I'll be away on a trip for a few days. Amateur Nikon should be back in action in about ten days.

Today's article is inspired by a comment I saw on a photography forum. There, someone advised another photographer to avoid third-party lenses because they supposedly are very bad when it comes to chromatic aberration. Of course - as I mentioned there as well - this is utter nonsense. You can't make such a comment any more than you can claim "Nikkor lenses are very good when it comes to vignetting". What you can say is something like "Lens A is better than lens B when it comes to element C".

Taken with a Sigma Super Wide AF 24mm f/2.8. I find it better than the Nikkor of the same generation.

To me (and to many other photographers out there) it seems self-evident that a third-party lens isn't always either worse or better; it depends on the design. But I realized this isn't necessarily known by a quite significant number of not-so-experienced photographers. The options are endless, but this also increases confusion. So, let's get to the bottom of this.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Review: Samyang 100 mm f/2.8 Macro


I have to admit, I find the Samyang concept very solid: remove autofocus to cut down cost, but give the best image quality you can (within the price tag). Result? A cheap but optically very capable lens. The 85mm f/1.4 was sensational, and the 14mm f/2.8 was no slouch either. When I heard that Samyang prepared a macro such lens, I was thrilled - because in macros, more than in any other case, the lack of autofocus is even less of an issue. I got one for reviewing purposes, hoping it'd be good enough to keep it. Here are my findings...

Center sharpness is just fine, really (although, this is a given for a macro prime lens)


+ Well built, like its siblings. No shortcuts when it comes to construction quality
+ manual focus is well implemented, allows for precision adjustments.
+ sharpness what you'd expect from a macro lens. No complaints really, except...

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Professional DX Lens Options


After the somewhat surprising (although still long-anticipated) announcement of the Nikon D500, many of us Nikon users are in a sort of blissful daydreaming state. Finally, the successor to the highly successful D300 is finally here, right? However, as I explained in my D500 article last week, if we get out of the cloud-9 phase we'll realize that, when all is said and done, there are no DX lenses to fully match this DX flagship camera.

Fair enough, if you are a safari or sports photographer, this probably doesn't concern you. You can just pick any FX tele and be happy, you don't need any wide-angle for sports, right?

But what if you're a portrait photographer, or a landscape photographer, or a wedding photographer? What if you need a fast wide-angle or a fast midrange zoom? Nikon seems to think you're a weirdo for needing professional-grade lenses on a DX, so they offer you the 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G and the 16-80mm f/2.8-f/4, respectively. Err, no... I don't think so. These are both fine lenses, but they're not pro-level lenses by any stretch of the imagination.

The Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 is the only truly pro-level DX midrange zoom.

In today's article I'll offer you some professional DX lens options, to match your newly pre-ordered D500 or any other DX camera you own. As I said, there are plenty of tele options for you - because you can use FX lenses (oh, 200mm f/2.8 DX, where art thou?). So, I'll offer suggestions for wide-angle and fast midrange zoom options. Since this is meant as a pro-level list, I chose lenses whose maximum aperture is f/2.8 or larger, while priority is also given to: a) optical quality; b) construction quality; c) operational consistency.

With these in mind, let's begin.